Earliest known footage of New Orleans surfaces after decades-long search

This remarkable film clip of New Orleans was shot in 1898 and, not surprisingly, it's from a Mardi Gras parade.

Arthur Hardy, long-time publisher of Mardi Gras Guide magazine, had nearly given up the search for the footage after spending decades looking for it, according to Smithsonian Magazine.

He was looking for a film of the Mardi Gras parade from 1898 that was only rumored to exist, the New York Times' Alex Traub writes. Numerous calls to experts and institutions like the Library of Congress and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had been unsuccessful.

But then Hardy reached out to Wayne Phillips, a curator at the Louisiana State Museum, who contacted Will French, a corporate lawyer and in-house historian for the Rex Organization, which helps organize the parade. French contacted film archivist Mackenzie Roberts Beasley.

And voila! Earlier this year, the nearly two-minute NOLA footage turned up at the Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam. It's both the earliest film of New Orleans and of the city's Mardi Gras.


This year's parade theme was "Harvest Queens."

Incidentally, the world's first Christmas movie was also shot in 1898.


screengrab via Eye Filmmuseum